Posted on March 11, 2009 by

Ayyam-e-Aza: The First Ten Days

I am being forced to blog about this by a friend. Well not exactly forced, but she’s a pretty nice gal so I won’t turn down her ‘order’. :P

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What does the term Ayyam-e-Aza mean? ‘Ayyam’ stems from, and is the plural of, ‘Youm’ meaning ‘Day’ and ‘Aza’ means ‘Sorrow’. So meaning ‘Days of Sorrow’, it refers to the two months and eight days of mourning over Imam Husain’s (A.S.) martyrdom and the martyrdom and imprisonment of his family.

This post is a review of how I spent this years Ayyam-e-Aza.

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Upon sighting the moon of Muharram, I leave for my aunt’s house where I decorate my Azakhana with my cousins. An Azakhana is basically a collection of Alams [flag of Imam Husain's (A.S.) army] and other objects symbolising different aspects of the event of Karbala. My father got stuck at the naval academy in Bangladesh during the war of 1971 and my grandmother then made a ‘mannat’ that if my father returned safe and sound, she would decorate an Azakhana and hold majalis for the first ten days of Muharram every year. My father returned and then the process of decorating the Azakhana started. From my grandmother, it passed down to my father. I’m the next heir of this sacred practice. And it will continue in my lineage.

My AzakhanaMy Azakhana

I am a big Allama Dr. Syed Zameer Akhtar Naqvi fan, die-hard as people call it, and most of you know that by now. The reason being simple that he is the greatest scholar of his time and there is no one, absolutely no one, who can match his knowledge. And I’m not limiting him to the Shia sect. I’m talking about the whole goddamn world here.

As soon as Muharram starts, he always has three to four majalis to address everyday for the first ten days. This year I attended two everyday. One at Imam Bargah-e-Jama-e-Sibtain and the other at Imam Bargah-e-Chaharda Masumeen. Helped keep me busy, and I needed it.

Starting from the fourth of Muharram, there are Ziaraat everyday such as Alams, Taboots, Mehndi of Hazrat Qasim Ibne Hasan (A.S.), cradle of Hazrat Ali Asghar (A.S.), Zuljinnah, etc and I’m lucky to be among the few who decorate them and then carry them into the crowd.

Cradle of Hazrat Ali Asghar (A.S.)Cradle of Hazrat Ali Asghar (A.S.)

As usual, Allama Sahab’s majalis were awesome. And then the feeling of carrying the Ziarat into the rough crowd and pushing through thousands of swarming people is a joy in it’s own right. On the 7th of Muharram, I got a thumbtack in my foot and I was carrying a heavy Ziarat on my shoulders. It was a full minute before I managed to pull the damn thing out of my foot.

Allama Sahab’s horse, Sakhi Baadshah, whom we decorate into a Zuljinnah, gave me a kiss on the 9th and almost ate my finger in the process. The pain refused to subside for thirty minutes.

Sakhi Baadshah, the Shabeeh-e-ZuljinnahBaadshah

This year’s Taboot (shabeeh of the Janaza) of Imam Husain (A.S.) was a new one, and it was huge! More than five feet in height and 8 feet in length, it was carried around by six people, including yours truly. And by god, it was beautiful!

Taboot of Imam Husain (A.S.)Taboot of Imam Husain (A.S.)

Flower decoration on top of the Taboot of Imam Husain (A.S.)Flowers decorated on top of the Taboot

On Shab-e-Ashur, it is a popular practice to visit different Imambargahs and to light candles and agarbattis (incense sticks) there. I visited a few, then came back around four in the morning.

In the morning, I woke up at around eight to ‘undecorate’ the Azakhana as the women in the house bade Imam Husain (A.S.) farewell with Alvidai nauhas. Alvida Alvida, Ae Husain, Alvida! Hard to keep your tears inside.

Ashurah, although always special, held even more meaning for me as I finally did Zanjeerzani (knives wala matam) this year. It was cool!

My TokasMy Tokas :P

Back from the procession (juloos) after matam, I spent the whole day lying on my tummy, sleeping which is a haraam practice on Ashurah. Around four, I left for the Asr-e-Ashur majlis which coincides with the time Imam Husain (A.S.) was “slaughtered” by Shimr (L.A.). After that majlis I came back but left again for the Shaam-e-Ghariban majlis at the same place.

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I’m breaking this post up into parts otherwise it’ll be too long.